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Fans cheer Angels at Rally Monday10/04/2004 6:44 PM ET
By Sandy Burgin / Special to MLB.com
IRVINE, Calif. -- First there was the 'Rally Monkey' and now there's 'Rally Monday.'
Major League Baseball brought the two together Monday for a celebration of the Anaheim Angels American League West championship and their participation in the 2004 baseball postseason that begins tomorrow at 1 p.m. PT with the first ALDS game between the Angels and the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium.
Some 3,000 fans, bedecked in red and white T-shirts and game jerseys, some adorned with Angel-designed balloons on their heads and others draped with Rally Monkeys, were on hand at high noon at the Irvine Spectrum Center for the Rally Monday event in honor of the Angels.
Rally towels and wristbands were the order of the day as television broadcasters Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler, along with former Angels Bobby Grich (1977-1986) and Doug DeCinces (1982-87) and team president Dennis Kuhl helped raffle off autographed baseballs and bats and game-used bases as well as tickets to the Angels' Divisional playoff games.
There were chants of 'A-R-T-I-E' for Angels owner Artie Moreno and yells of 'M-V-P' for Vladimir Guerrero.
Also heard were chants of "Bring on Boston!" from fans who sounded quite ready for the opponent, who will be at Angel Stadium Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday night.
Past rallying cries, such as "Yes, We Can", the mantra of the 1979 Angels team showed up on hand-made signs. Bobby Grich played on that squad and talked about the spirit of that team.
"Whenever we were behind, say in the seventh or eighth inning, our fans would begin the chant 'Yes, We Can! Yes, We can!' and the team responded to it. And that spirit which was certainly evident in 2002 is back again."
Hudler told the crowd about the circumstances of Grich's signing with the Angels after a six year career with the Baltimore Orioles.
"Owner Gene Autry had already spent sizeable money on both Don Baylor and Joe Rudi and didn't really have any serious money left for Grich, who wanted to return to his native California (he grew up in Long Beach)," said Hudler.
"When Grich heard of this he told his agent to call up Autry and tell him he would take whatever their first offer was," Grich said. "It turned out to be half of what the Yankees were offering, but Bobby took it and made his life here."
Grich and DeCinces spent much of the day signing autographs on shirts, hats and even a quilt.
The quilt was specially designed into a crossword puzzle by Lois Rouse.
"I took the names from the Opening Day roster and made them into a crossword puzzle and embroidered the letters and made it into a quilt," said Rouse. "I think it took me about two weeks. I worked on it pretty much non-stop, well, not really.
"I was new to quilting when I did this," said Rouse. "I got a few signatures, including David Eckstein and Mike Scioscia. "Each of the letters I did individually and then I arranged them into what they call 'nine patches' together, some wouldn't write a letter in it and others would. I don't have names like Curtis Pride, but I do have his signature."
Rouse said she got into the Angels two years ago after she retired as a teacher.
Another Rally Monday participant, Teri Fish, is also a teacher and talked about the Angels players being such great role models.
"I love the Angels, I think they are great role models for students and kids in the community," said Fish. "I'm a first grade teacher and I use a lot of baseball analogies in my classroom like teamwork, and working together and trying our best.
"David Eckstein is a wonderful example of that," said Fish. "I tell my kids to look at him, he never gave up, people kept on telling him he was too small, he didn't have the range, but look what he made of himself with hard work and determination."
There were a number of kids present, who perhaps should have been at school.
Grant Klasna and Ethan and Evan Acker were out of school due to a "minimum day".
"They had just a half-day of school, and we made it just a little less minimum," said their grandmother, Jean Acker, "but it was for a good cause."
Indeed, even Stephen Dobbs took some time off from Boeing to take his 82-year-old mother to the rally.
"He's been working 60 or 70 hours a week," said Sarah Dobbs. "A couple of hours shouldn't matter, especially for a great team like the Angels."
That was the strongest sentiment at the almost two hour Rally Monday event and it's one the Angels and their fans are certainly hoping will carry on through the playoffs to another World Series title.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.